Poaching: Almost 90 elephants dead in ‘biggest ever’ slaughter in Africa

Credit Elephants Without Borders

Thato Raphaka, Botswana permanent secretary of land management, water and sanitation services, said that 90 elephants were never killed in one incident, and that a recent survey conducted by Elephants Without Borders found 53 carcasses that had already been reported to the government.

According to him, most of the elephants were killed a few weeks ago because of the tusks.

The spike coincides with Botswana's anti-poaching unit being disarmed.

Botswana's 2018 Wildlife Aerial Survey is only half-way through and conservationists fear the final figure of poached elephants will be a lot higher. Williams posted a graphic photo of one of the dead elephants to Instagram, writing, "Botswana WAS the last sanctuary of hope for our precious wildlife with a government that used to understand that value of protecting our wildlife".

Security in Botswana has often been known to quickly open fire on poaching suspects, including Namibians and Zimbabweans who were killed after illegally crossing the border.

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According to Botswana's government, it has the world's largest elephant populations, and many wildlife conservationists consider it a safe haven for the elephants. Botswana has an estimated 130,000 elephants, the most of any country in Africa.

Members of an armed anti-poaching unit patrolled the elephants' habitats, while Botswana's military was mobilized throughout the border region, tasked with preventing poaching.

Data from elephant tracking collars shows elephants enter Botswana from neighboring Angola, Namibia and Zambia where they were at more risk of being poached.

China in particular has taken steps to combat the ivory trade, but, as the president of Save the Elephants told The New York Times past year, "There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory". Botswana's former President Khama introduced the policy and placed a ban on poaching elephants in 2014. Besides the distressing discovery of slaughtered elephants, five white rhinos have been poached in the area in the past three months.

"The poachers tried to hide the traces of their crimes, covered with piles of rotting flesh dry branches", - said chase. "Tourism is vitally important for our economy, jobs, as well as our worldwide reputation, which is at stake here as being a safe stronghold for elephants." said Mr Chase.

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